POLLOCK PINES (CBS13) – It may be calm now, but half a million visitors travel to Sly Park Recreation Area every year.
“When there is that many people there is bound to be accidents,” said Greg Hawkins from the El Dorado Irrigation District.
Vanessa Norgauer from the Active 30-30 club remembers back in 2013 when a fun day on the water quickly turned tragic.
“It really could be 15 seconds and change lives forever,” Norgauer said.
An El Dorado boy drowned in shallow water just feet from his father.
“We’re a small town and a small community, so when something like that happens it is felt all across the community,” Norgauer said.
And if the lake water is murky, it makes finding the drowning child difficult.
“If they don’t have any flotation on they are not going to float,” Hawkins said.
That’s why Kayla Grissom created the first free life jacket station in El Dorado County.
“It’s kind of unbelievable that kind of stuff can happen especially if you’re so close to the shore and in the shallow water,” Grissom said.
A scout since kindergarten, she wanted to earn Girl Scout’s highest honor – the gold award – with this station.
“I found that this was the best way to get out the message that this is important,” Grissom said.
The loaner program only launched a month ago and is already a huge success. Officials say 90 percent of the 60 lifejackets are used every weekend.
“I think it will get even more popular as people learn about it,” Hawkins said.
Kayla hopes her service project makes a lasting and potentially lifesaving impression.
“People will see this years later and really take this seriously. I hope this encourages them,” Grissom said.
The Active 20-30 club gathered donations for the life jackets from the community. There’s now talk of expanding stations to other water areas throughout El Dorado County.